Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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July 22 Post

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“Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’” Psalm 16:1-2

In the face of anxiety-producing circumstances, God grants simple gifts to bring comfort. When I was a little girl and my parents got into a fight about something, I went downstairs and played church hymns on the piano until the storm passed. Music became the prayer that sheltered me. It shelters me still.

When the troubles of the world get bigger, our world grows smaller. It’s funny how this works. The simplest of acts remind us that God is our protector, our strength, and our hope that all manner of things shall be well. For example, when Jesus faced an angry, murderous crowd with rocks in hand, he bent down and quietly wrote with a stick in the dirt. There was a long pause. He looked up and calmly asked whoever among them was without sin to throw the first stone. And they all went home.

Jesus knew what to do with an angry crowd. He slipped out of worship when the men of his hometown responded to his first sermon by wanting to throw him off a cliff. He got up long before dawn and went off to a lonely place and prayed there after an exhausting day of teaching and healing. He listened to the challenges of the suspicious Sadducees and the critical Pharisees and then helped them ask better questions. He responded to the bitter betrayal of one of his closest friends by taking an after dinner walk to the olive garden where he expressed his deepest concerns to God.

What comforts you in the maelstrom? Where do you turn when storm clouds gather on your horizon? The shape of our refuge may differ from one another: a solitary walk at the beach, a quiet cup of tea in the corner of a sunlit room, a hard bike ride to nowhere and back, an appointment with the garden pulling weeds, the singular hour reading the Psalms or a nourishing word. Wherever you land for respite, you can be sure of this. The God of life waits for you there. God protects you and shelters you. God desires for you all good things.

In the words of a reflective hymn from the Taize community in France:
“Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten,
those who seek God shall never go wanting.
Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten,
God alone fills us.”

Prayer: On this day, dear God, help me to remember that perfect love casts out all fear, as Jesus said. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach